Benfica boss Jorge Jesus says racism allegations have become “very fashionable” and has described the movement for equality as a “wave that is taking over the world”. On Tuesday, Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League clash against Istanbul Basaksehir was postponed following allegations of racism.
Basaksehir substitute Demba Ba was seen remonstrating with fourth official Sebastian Coltescu before he and his team-mates were followed down the tunnel by their PSG counterparts.
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The club’s official Twitter account later alleged Pierre Webo, the team’s assistant coach, was exposed to racist language by Coltescu and the game was finally postponed after a delay of over two hours. UEFA confirmed the game will resume at 5:55 pm GMT (12:55 pm ET) on Wednesday with a new team of officials, while an investigation into the incident takes place.
PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Presnel Kimpembe were among the players to post anti-racism messages following the incident. Benfica boss Jesus was asked for his opinion at a news conference previewing his team’s Europa League clash at Standard Liege on Thursday and gave a contentious reply. He said: “I don’t know what happened, what was said, but nowadays all this about racism is very fashionable.
“As a citizen, I have the right to think in my own way and I can only have a concrete opinion when I know what was said at that moment. “These days anything that is said about a Black person is always a sign of racism, and the same thing about a white man is no longer a sign of racism. “It’s a wave that is taking over the world. Maybe there was a sign of racism, but I don’t know what they said to that coach.”
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho has also been among those to weigh in on the events at Parc des Princes, but his stance was the polar opposite of Jesus’, as he condemned Coltescu for his actions before expressing his hope that the match will mark a turning point in football’s battle against racism. “It’s a very sad situation,” the Portuguese told reporters. “Every form of racism has to be fought. It should never be accepted. I’m very sad because we don’t want that in football.
“The fourth official, only he can make his feelings clear. Of course, he made an unacceptable mistake. “Only he can open his heart and apologize. Everyone in football, we have our responsibilities and if we make mistakes, you accept your responsibility. “That game will become iconic, a Champions League game stopped, but hopefully it will never happen again.”